Saturday, February 20, 2016

Laugh of the Day

A grammar lesson AND state funding lesson, all rolled into one.


Anonymous said...

Hm - Just saw this post on a Seattle family that would like their son to be in the immersion program, but somehow SPS has now decided he's ELL, not a native speaker of English. .


Anonymous said...


It's not clear the ELL status and inability to get into the immersion program have anything to do with each other. The program was full, and they got put on the waiting list. It happens to many. Does the program set aside a certain number of spots for native speakers? I think the north-end immersion schools do, but I recall that only happened when they were converted to option schools.


Anonymous said...

I think there are 2 issues - getting into the immersion program is one. When the program started at JSIS 2000 there were spots for ELL students who spoke the target language as native speakers. I don't know when that stopped. I'm way past enrolling elementary students, but I'm pretty confident that the wait lists for the immersion schools are still full of kids who would thrive in the program and be linguistic assets to the classroom.

The other issue is how does a kid whose parents are native speakers of English to end up with an ELL designation? I'd be curious as to why the classroom teacher seemed to think it was a correct assignment. I take the author's word that her son has learned Mandarin in an immersion pre-school, but I'd be hard pressed to believe that his English skills aren't native. And I'd be curious as to why no teachers noticed.

Family Support Workers are assigned kids who need support - so I could see that a tick in the Chinese language box might make the school interested to see what the kid's language skills were, but I'd be curious to see the assessment that indicated ELL support was necessary. I'd want to observe the ELL pull-outs to see what is being offered to my kid and why. I'd be really surprised if a kid who went to an immersion pre-school, but grew up in Seattle with English speaking parents doesn't speak/understand English as well as a kid who wasn't exposed to Mandarin.

If I was a conspiracy theorist - I'd wonder if the school wanted an ELL learner who was likely to test super well in the next year. But I suspect that it's more likely that the kid's record looked a lot like the record of other kids who have been through the school, weren't native speakers and the staff made an assumption that was wrong, didn't listen to the parents, and is going to end up with a problem that could have been solved earlier.

Also, I don't think SPS has a whole lot of experience with kids who are competent in more than one language. I'm not sure the form is set up to assume competence in more than one language.


Anonymous said...

The other issue is how does a kid whose parents are native speakers of English to end up with an ELL designation?

Because the mom said she listed Chinese on his SPS enrollment form, and then he didn't pass the test to demonstrate sufficient English proficiency. I'm not sure why she's so surprised. She said English was his first and "dominant" language, but she never said he's fluent in it. Maybe he still needs some help. Or maybe he doesn't, and by the time they test him next year it will be clear he's no longer an ELL.

The SPS form isn't designed to assume competence in more than one language. If a language other than English is listed as either the first or the primary home language, it triggers an assessment. If a child demonstrates clear competence in English at that time, they wouldn't get the ELL designation. That seems like a reasonable system.


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry this is off topic for this thread, but I wondered if I could request a thread about kindergarten funding, because I am very confused. When we toured our local elementary last week, we got the talk about how we have to pay for full-day kindergarten and left with paperwork about paying for it. Today I was directed by another mom to a state site that says all schools will be funded from Sept. District site has nothing. I've heard nothing in the media. Anyone here know? Thank you. (Here is the site I mentioned:
kindergarten mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

Kindergarten Mom, it is my understanding that there is no more pay for K in Seattle Schools (I recall hearing this recently at a Board committee meeting.) The website seems to indicate that it still exists.

I will follow-up tomorrow with the district.

Anonymous said...

@kitty - But the mom also indicated that English is spoken in the home. I don't agree that speaking a language other than English should trigger an assessment. What is striking is that the mother went in to explain that she and the father are English speakers looking to expose their son to Mandarin. If there was testing done that indicates the kid is ELL - I'd guess that there is a problem in the test that doesn't have to do with English language learning. There's not a big likelihood that an immersion daycare preschool experience would completely block out the language learning that goes in a household where the parents are native English speakers and the kid is growing up in Seattle. If the ELL assessment indicated a kid with that background and experience needed ELL support, I'd wonder about bias in the test. Maybe I'd wonder about learning issues.

What if all kids in kindergarten were assessed using the ELL assessment - what would we find out?

I do know from personal experience that if someone is determined to believe that I am Japanese (meaning that I grew up in Japan) there is little I can do to dissuade that person. When it happens - it's like being in an SNL skit:

Person who thinks I'm Japanese:"Gosh, your English is good."
ME: "I grew up in the States!"
PWTIJ: " And your accent is pretty good, too. I can hardly tell you are foreign."
ME: "Uh. . . "

but it shouldn't happen as a public schools policy.



Anonymous said...

Tami wrote "But the mom also indicated that English is spoken in the home. I don't agree that speaking a language other than English should trigger an assessment."

The registration form is pretty clear that it will trigger an assessment.

"If the response to either of these questions is a language other
than English, the student should be referred for testing with the WELPA Placement Test."

And the questions are "What language did your child first learn to speak?" and "What language does YOUR CHILD use the most at home?

Tami also writes "What if all kids in kindergarten were assessed using the ELL assessment - what would we find out?"

I don't know about the WELPA, but I'm familiar with the CELDT (California's version) and a lot of English-only kindergartners would not pass. That's because a lot of kindergartners answer questions by shaking their head or saying "uh huh" even after being prompted to use words.


Anonymous said...

I've been pretty baffled by this article. It seemed to me that the mom wrote down Chinese because she wanted to improve the kid's chances of getting into the immersion program.

Maybe the form was different last year, but the form on the website right now (as LisaG point out) clearly asks for the child's first spoken language and the language the kid most frequently speaks at home and clearly says the kid will be referred for testing if the answer to either is not English. It sounds like the answer to both questions should have been English and the testing would have never been triggered. Who knows what the child's language skills are. But if the questions are the same now as they were last year, the parent's reading comprehension skills seem a bit lacking.

NE Parent